Throw Your Spaghetti

Parents are known for their one-liners, and mine were no exception. “Do it once, do it right, then forget about it.” Wise words tattooed on my heart as my military father explained how to mop the kitchen floor.

Now, with four children of my own, I’ve discovered there are a few one-liners I’ve batted around long enough to stick with my four kids as well. My personal favorite?

Throw your spaghetti!

I use these three words to encourage family and friends. Inspiring them to knock on every door in their path and walk through and follow-thru when that door opens.

This saying originates from the traditional Italian way of testing pasta. The cook throws a handful of spaghetti noodles against the wall and if a few strands stick the pasta’s ready. If the noodles fall to the ground—the pasta remains in the boiling water.

Here are a few life examples of what “Throw Your Spaghetti” looks like:

While attending a writer’s conference, I was surrounded by hundreds of wannabee-authors like myself who dreamed of a coveted publishing contract. When I had the chance to talk with some of them, I was amazed by their talent, awed by their creative ideas, and immediately anxious about ever being good enough.

One of those gifted writers spoke with me, “I just got back my edited manuscript. It’s full of red ink. The editor suggested I talk with another publisher.” She moped.

“So, what are you waiting for? There are lots of publishers here you could talk to.” I reminded her.

“I don’t know. I really had hoped this editor would want it for her publishing house. I’m thinking it’s not meant to be for me.” She mumbled.

“Are you kidding? You have a gift, and you’re going to let a rejection from one publisher hold you back from your dream? C’mon get out there and meet with everyone you can. Throw your spaghetti!”

And then there was the time my college-aged daughter called to share:

“Mom, I just found out about another college that offers a fellowship for creative writing. But, the problem is, I’m not sure if I should stick to my number one school choice in Iowa, or try for this one too?”

“Honey, there are no guarantees you’ll get into your first choice, so I’d apply for both. Throw your spaghetti!”

“Throw your spaghetti” is my own silent mantra from time to time. After flying cross-country to attend a women’s conference, I anticipated sharing my book idea with a few publishing houses. By divine miracle, my late registration didn’t hold me back from appointments with publishers.

I called my husband to share my progress. “Paul, I just met with a gal who taught a workshop about pitching my book idea. She said what I have isn’t good enough for a book.”

“I’m sorry, who told you? Did God personally tell you that?” Sarcasm oozed over every syllable.

“No, God did not personally tell me that!” Irritation got the best of me.

“Well then, I suggest you keep your appointments with the publishers and pitch your book idea. Throw your spaghetti!”

He was right. I kept both of my appointments. Each publisher gave me the green light to send in my full book proposal. Months later, those same publishers emailed rejections. But, I did what I do best—I threw my spaghetti and submitted my work over and over again.

What manuscript have you buried for lack of follow-thru? What gift have you ignored because you believe you aren’t good enough, smart enough, or talented enough? Start working on your follow-thru, and perseverance…then throw your spaghetti!

By the way, that book idea I was telling you about? You can find it on Amazon.

What holds you back from trying one more time?

Who encourages you to throw your spaghetti?

34 Replies to “Throw Your Spaghetti”

  1. Thanks. I’ve been debating here recently on sending something out–it’s as done as it can be and I’m “afraid” it’s not good enough. Thanks for encouraging me right now to keep from sitting on it but to throw it out there.

  2. I thought I was the only one who knew the “throw the spaghetti” trick! My college rommate (from Iowa) taught me that. 🙂 What a great encouragement, reminder and testimony to never giving up.

  3. Joanne,

    Such a creative idea to associate our writerly perseverance with “throw your spaghetti!” Loved it!

    I suppose if we throw our spaghetti manuscript to the editorial wall and it doesn’t stick, we just need to stick it back in the ol’ pot and keep cookin’ and stirrin’ ’til it’s ready.

    Thanks, happy cooking; and I may many enjoy your yummy meals!

  4. Thanks to Sharon Lavy on Twitter for sending me to this post. I need to do some serious noodle tossin’ myself. I appreciate the encouragement!

  5. I’ve never heard that phrase in my life, but I’m kind of liking it. 🙂 Thanks for the great words of encouragement and the view from a glass that’s half full!

  6. Nice article and I will be throwing some spaghetti – but I guess there is also some timing involved, and undercooked won’t stick, so I’m still doing some cooking 🙂

    Have a blessed day.

    1. If you’re worried your ms is undercooked, get yourself a critique partner. I know how much my group of “eyeballs” help me out! Good luck Heather!

  7. I hadn’t heard the phrase before either. Love it! I guess the purpose of throwing it was to see if it was ready. We move toward goals in steps and one step leads to another. We’ll never know about our work until we send out those proposals.Thanks for the encouragement to move forward!

  8. Joanne, I so needed to read your post! And not just because I made spaghetti last night. Wednesday was my critique group meeting and I was less than thrilled with the verbal feedback I got. (I write historical fiction and they write mystery and crime so the different genres are a challenge when it comes to following their advice.) Anyhow, I didn’t look at the written comments till this morning as I didn’t want to face them. Light bulb! There were some pretty complimentary and also useful comments, which I implemented today. Had I known to throw my spaghetti, I would have started with them yesterday, instead of needing a day to work up to them. Lesson learned. Thank you!

    1. Elaine,

      Reading a critique can be tough sometimes. I’ve learned to receive them as vaery helpful. If the majority of my critique group is in agreement about a change in my ms, I’ll more than likely find a way to change it. BUT..if just one or two people see something that they want me to change, I usually leave it the way it is.

      Glad you were encouraged.

  9. Sometimes when I finish a project, it takes me a couple of days to actually submit it. I used to think that was because I subconsciously thought it could be better. But know I just realize that the procrastination is a result of knowing that if I never send it, I will never hear “no.” Of course that means I will never hear “yes” either.

  10. Thanks for this encouragement. I have two manuscripts that I keep throwing out to agents with nothing sticking so far. As I learn new writing practices I tweek my stories and remind myself that it’s God’s gift to me to write. It’s my stewardship of His stories that He has given to me to get these into the hands of someone who will help me make these a reality.
    Thanks, again, for the encouragement. Wade Webster

    1. Glad you were encouraged, Wade. Knowing God has a plan for my writing is what gives me the courage to launch it. Hang in there. And, remember, there are hudnreds of editors/publishing houses out there. Throw your spaghetti!

  11. I’m always kinds of embarrassed to throw my spaghetti on the wall while I’m cooking. But it is a great way to test to see if it’s ready to eat. I love your analogy to other areas of life–especially writing. Since I struggle with perfection from time to time (that’s really an understatement), I needed to be reminded of this for my book ideas. No one can “eat my spaghetti” if I keep cooking it in the pot forever! So, I guess it’s time to throw some of my spaghetti out of the pot and see if it sticks!

    1. You can do it, karen! Perfection holds us back. I call myself a disorganized perfectionist. As a writer, analysis paralysis can put a wet blanket on a writer-fire. Let your words go. Launch them!

  12. Inspiring mantra. This is one of my favorite blog posts. Thanks for sharing. I clicked on the Amazon link, and it is a book I’ve heard of before this post 🙂
    I’m curious. Looking back, in the arenas you felt you were following through on God nudgings but they didn’t pan out the way you thought…have you since been able to see God’s purposes in those connections or activities?

    1. Glad you’ve heard of my book. And, yes, I can now see quite a few situations on this writer-journey where the Lord has made it clear He was orchestrating every step. It’s those times I reflect on to get me through rejections and waiting periods. I have faith His purpose for my life will weave it’s way through everything.

  13. Ha! I had heard of the spaghetti test. Once, while living with my sister and a roommate during college, I horribly overcooked some spaghetti. We ended up in hysterics throwing handful after handful at the wall and watching it dangle. Thanks for the memory!

Comments are closed.